I’m on vacation this week. We have had the joy of spending some time with our grandsons. As usual, kids love to ask questions.
I showed them a butterfly we found on the ground, not moving. I explained that I put it in the picnic table in case it was just trying to dry its wings so it could fly. We watched it while we were busy at the picnic table and it didn’t move much.
Andrew suggested, “Do you think it has a broken leg?” Very possible assumption since it seemed to be struggling to stand for any length of time.
After a while it fell over onto its side and just laid there. I stood it back up and it opened its wings some.
“What does it feel like?” So I let each of them touch the vibrant side of the butterfly’s wings gently. “It’s soft,” was their response. “Like velvet,” I suggested.
Later as we were eating dinner, the butterfly was still there. I told them that it was probably not going to live much longer. I explained that a butterfly’s life span is only a matter of days.
“Why don’t you smash it?” Andrew asked.
“I’m not going to kill it, Andrew. Let’s just see what happens.”
“Well if it dies, you should smash it. Are you going to put it in the garbage can after it dies?”
“No, I’ll just let nature do with this butterfly what it usually does with all butterflies that die,” I explained.
“What happens to butterflies after they die?” Andrew asked.
“I’m not sure. Maybe they blow away in the breeze and get absorbed into the earth like dust,” I suggested.
The next day, after the boys went home, the butterfly’s life was over. While Ken sat on the deck a bird swooped in and pulled the beautiful monarch’s head off. It came back and then tore the body apart from the wings and ate it.
I called the boys later that day and spoke to Andrew. “Andrew, do you remember when you asked what happened to butterflies when they die?”
“Yes. Did the butterfly die, Grandma?”
“Yes it did. Well, when Paco was sitting outside a bird came and pulled the butterfly’s head off and ate it.”
“Yuck. Did Paco get sick watching that?”
“No. But then the bird came back and pulled the body off the butterfly and ate it.”
“Did Paco start to puke?”
“No. Then the bird just tore the butterfly apart. I guess it is the chain of command in animals that one eats another to survive.”
“Well, was there lots of blood when the bird pulled the butterfly’s head off?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Well was Paco feeling sick after all that? I wouldn’t like to see that. I’ll bet there was lots of blood when the head got pulled off.”